The life and sacrifice of former Warwickshire player Percy Jeeves will be commemorated by the unveiling of a blue plaque this week.
A brilliant all-rounder – a seam-bowler and attacking batsman – Jeeves took 191 wickets, including 12 hauls of five or more, in two championship seasons for the Bears. Also a modest and hugely popular man, he appeared certain to play for his country.
But instead the First World War broke out, Jeeves did not hesitate to join up and, in July 1916, serving with the 15th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment, he died for his country.
He vanished without trace at High Wood during the Battle of the Somme in the early hours of July 22, 1916. He was 28.
Almost exactly 100 years on, a blue plaque in honour of Percy Jeeves will be unveiled on Wednesday in Goole, east Yorkshire, where he grew up and first fledged as a cricketer with the town team. The ceremony has been arranged by Goole Civic Society who have chosen the former Bear as the first son of Goole to be honoured in this way.
Guests at the ceremony will include a representative of The Wodehouse Society. PG Wodehouse called his famously immaculate manservant character Jeeves after Percy, whom he saw play for Warwickshire in a county championship match against Gloucestershire at Cheltenham in 1913. A letter from the great writer, confirming that Percy was the man after whom he named his character, is in the museum at Edgbaston.
Jeeves played 50 first class matches in total, taking 199 wickets at 20.03 apiece, superb figures especially considering that, for much of the time, he carried an ageing and injury-hit Warwickshire attack almost single-handedly.
The powerful full story of Jeeves has been told in an acclaimed book – The Real Jeeves (Pitch Publishing) – by Bears club journalist Brian Halford. In a foreword to the book, Warwickshire legend Dennis Amiss recalls that one of his own coaches at Edgbaston, the great Tiger Smith, played alongside Jeeves and recalled him as “a real gentlemen and very modest despite his huge talent.”
The Real Jeeves, which was short-listed for the MCC/Cricket Society Cricket Book of the Year, is available from the shop at Edgbaston and all good book outlets.